Friday, February 22, 2008

A second helping of roast chicken

Yes, I really did give up meat for Lent and no, I didn't have chicken for dinner tonight (breaded shrimp with cocktail sauce - definitely a retro Lenten meal). Second Helpings of Roast Chicken is the sequel to British chef Simon Hopkinson's first collection of food tales: Roast Chicken and Other Stories. I read a review of the latter, which lamented that the former was not yet available in the US. I bought them both for my dad from Amazon in the UK -- with a Second Helping for myself.

Second Helpings is a passionate memoir of food. My favorite chapters are "Butter" and "Rhubarb", but each of the entries in this ecletic encylopedia of essays and recipes is a delight. We had a snow day today (at least the kids did, I taught class with their invaluable help), so for dessert tonight I made pain perdu aux pommes - a recipe I've been dreaming about since I found it sandwiched between almonds and beans. 6 egg yolks, 110 g of sugar and 90 ml of heavy cream are certain to offset any of the the health benefits of my day-old oatmeal bread and apples. Think French Toast with vanilla custard, caramel and apples....

Pain perdu (lost bread) is a dish from my New Orleans roots, but the earliest version of the recipe is from a Roman cookbook of the 4th or 5th century:

Aliter dulcia: siligineos rasos frangis, et buccellas maiores facies. in lacte infundis, frigis et in oleo, mel superfundis et inferes.

Another dessert: Break up bread and make larger bites. Soak in milk, fry in oil, drizzle in honey and serve.

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